Cam Newton did his best impersonation of Norv Turner after the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator let the rushing quarterback do what he does best in the team’s 16-8 season-opening win over the Dallas Cowboys.
“‘Hey baby, I’m-a let you be you now, baby,'” Newton told reporters on Sunday.
Newton said he agreed with the 66-year-old Turner, who reportedly responded to the quarterback by saying “‘All right now. Just let it go out there today, baby.'”
Fueled by those words, Newton set the tone early with a 29-yard scamper on the opening drive. The 29-year-old had team-leading totals in both carries (13) and rushing yards (58) to go along with his rushing touchdown on Sunday.
“Norv just felt — kind of watching him during warmups — Norv just felt he had to get him going early, which he did,” coach Ron Rivera said. “He got in a good rhythm and we moved the ball well.”
Newton’s running ability was appreciated by center Ryan Kalil.
“It helps us out tremendously,” Kalil said of the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton’s running ability. “He’s a special player, and he’s someone you have to account for. It adds another element to our offense. … He can make guys miss, he can extend a play.”
In Turner’s offense, the Panthers want Newton to complete more high-percentage passes and take fewer hits with the ball in his hand.
Newton wasn’t as dominant through the air on Sunday, completing 17 of 26 passes for 161 yards.
The 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player, Newton led Carolina to the playoffs for the fourth time in five years last season by throwing for 3,302 yards with 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He also rushed for a career-high 754 yards and six scores.
The Panthers (1-0) will enter division play on Sunday when they hit the road to face the NFC South-rival Atlanta Falcons (0-1), who dropped an 18-12 decision to the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday.